11 October 2017

The Levellers' Connection

The Levellers' quest for democratic inclusion and social justice is a theme that pervades my novels.

In the beginning, the predicament of the central character in 'Kuan's Wonderland', echoes that of Kafka's familiar protagonist, K, who cannot escape from an existential trap that brings total oppression. As we learn later, Kuan is also known as K. And as a hint, 'K' is the letter between 'J' and 'L' - the initials for 'John Lilburne'.

In the second novel, 'Whitehall through the Looking Glass', we learn more about K, whose full name is Philip K. Rainsborough. Like Colonel Rainsborough at the famous Putney Debate, he refuses to accept an unjust system imposed by a dictatorial ruler, and chooses to side with those who are willing to challenge it.

In 'The Hunting of the Gods', we are reacquainted with the character who has now adopted the name 'Overton' to protect his identity. Richard Overton wrote many pamphlets to advance the Levellers' cause, one of which carried the title, 'The Hunting of the Foxes', which attacked Cromwell. He was no friend of the Royalists either, and wanted to see true democracy established.

02 September 2017

Synetopia Quest: looking for a different world?

From H. G. Wells to Margaret Atwood, writers have reimagined our world to depict more vividly the threats facing society and impress upon us the need for radical alternatives. The Anti-Con series of novels take this to a new level with their distinctive blend of offbeat characters, poignant plot-twists, and unmasking of ideological humbug.

Henry Tam’s fiction has been praised in diverse quarters: “An unmissable page-turner” (President, the Independent Publishers Guild); “Simply a tour de force” (Director for Education, WEA); “Original and very engaging” (Fantasy Book Review); “The ending is tense, unexpected and powerful” (Economics Editor, The Independent newspaper); “A sharp satirical look at life inside the corridors of power” (Chief Executive, Civil Service College); “Beautifully, deftly written” (Dame Jane Roberts); “An important reminder of the risks of crude neoliberal ideology” (General Secretary, TUC); "It's a cautionary tale and a call to action, but also a gripping read" (Director, Speakers’ Corner Trust).

The three novels – 'Kuan's Wonderland'; 'Whitehall through the Looking Glass'; 'The Hunting of the Gods' – share a thematic concern with why we need to steer our way to a different future. Each is set in its own curiously unique world, with a largely self-contained story. Some of the characters appear in one or more of the novels, and their relationships are developed over the series.

Kuan’s Wonderland
In this allegorical tale, a young boy, Kuan, is taken against his will to the mysterious realm of Shiyan, where nothing is as it appears. He hopes his reclusive father will come to his rescue, not suspecting that both father and son may be the target of a dark conspiracy. In his attempt to escape from Shiyan, where the lower order routinely pledge to give more of their time to do the bidding of the ruling elite, Kuan encounters a host of enigmatic characters, from the unseen Curator to Dr Erica Lee, to whom the motherless boy develops a deep attachment. In the end he has to face up to a painful secret from his past and make the ultimate sacrifice to save his own world from annihilation.
(Find out more about: Kuan’s Wonderland)

Whitehall through the Looking Glass
This is the story of how a group of powerful corporations known as the Consortium, working in cahoots with multi-billionaire monarch, George VIII, come to rule over both Britain and the US. In this timid new world, civil servants jostle to be of the greatest service to their new political masters, except for Philip K. Rainsborough when he learns of the Consortium’s real agenda. Alas, the Consortium has on its side the Super Utility Network, the most advanced opinion manipulation technology in the world. Rainsborough gets a chance to bring down the government when Chief Supt Carrie Edel asks for his help in charging the Prime Minister with murder. But who can he really trust?
(Find out more about: Whitehall through the Looking Glass)

The Hunting of the Gods
The technologically advanced inhabitants of Earth accept beyond all doubt that life on the planet was created by the gods 500 years ago. In that time, all racial differences have merged into homogeneity; gender discrimination has vanished; the poor die young; and the elite prosper and live very long indeed. There is nothing beyond the grasp of the gods except how to make peace with each other. From the beginning, the two immortal rivals have divided the world into interminably warring realms. But during the latest conflict, rumours start to circulate that the reign of the gods must be terminated. Amidst the revolutionary intrigues stands a recently resurrected man whose past has long been forgotten by everyone. Rebels turn to him for help, and he shares with them the secret of the Synetopia Quest. But his second coming may soon be over.
(Find out more about: The Hunting of the Gods)

The Author
In addition to his novels, Henry Tam has had many books and articles published on social and political issues. These include Time to Save Democracy; Communitarianism, which was nominated by New York University Press for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order; and a global history of the progressive struggle, Against Power Inequalities, has been acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. He has also been a senior adviser in the UK Government; lecturer at Cambridge University; Visiting Professor at Birkbeck, University of London; and a speaker at key events on democracy and governance around the world from Washington and Warsaw to Oxford and Strasbourg.
(Learn more at: Henry Tam: Words & Politics)